New Politics, Same Old Politicians – Scandals of the Coalition Government

Graham Murray

In the aftermath of the biggest political scandal for decades, the MP’s expenses scandal, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition would hope to lead a far less disgraced government. Now 18 months into the Coalition, this has been far from the case. Home Secretary Theresa May’s border check row and the revelations regarding former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and his friend Adam Werritty are just the latest in a long line of scandals for the Coalition government. Prominent figures within government including Vince Cable, David Laws, Chris Huhne, Kenneth Clarke and Andy Coulson amongst others have hit the headlines with and in some cases lost their job over scandals.

The earliest scandal was that of Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws. Just 17 days after his appointment to the cabinet, he had resigned after his expenses claims were exposed. His partner, James Lundie had been renting a house at the cost of the taxpayer, and the cost had totalled £40,000. He said he had claimed this money to keep the relationship secret, rather than out of greed. Despite this, it tarnished the fresh faces of the “new politics” coalition.

In December, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable was caught out by the Daily Telegraph making some controversial comments regarding Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSKYB and his role in the Coalition. He told undercover journalists, who he mistakenly believed to be his constituents that he was at “war” with Mr Murdoch, and would not allow the BSKYB bid to go through. He also revealed that if the Tories pushed him too far, he would resign, as he believed his resignation would bring down the Coalition, who he likened to having Maoist policies.Cable said he was embarrassed and apologised for the comments. The responsibilities over the BSKYB bid were passed onto the Murdoch-faithful Conservative Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. It was later revealed that Mr Cable’s blunder had cost the government £300,000.

The phone hacking scandal, while not directly involving any member of parliament, managed to taint the government once more. David Cameron had chosen former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson as his Head of Communications. Coulson resigned in January this year, then in July he was arrested and questioned regarding his role in the phone hacking affair. Cameron later said with hindsight, he would have never appointed Andy Coulson.

In May, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke made some controversial comments regarding rape sentencing. He argued that certain rapes were “more serious” than others, and initially refused to apologise for his comments. He later issued a statement in which he apologised for the comments. Ed Miliband called on David Cameron to sack the Justice Secretary, though no action was taken.

Arguably, the biggest and most reported scandal is that of Liam Fox, whose working relationship with Adam Werritty was the cause of his eventual resignation. Despite the fact that Werritty is not a member of the Government he travelled with Mr Fox on various official overseas trips. At the cost of the taxpayer, Liam Fox had allowed Adam Werritty to live with him rent free, and also had used tax payer’s money to pay his wages. He had also been claiming to be an official adviser to the Rt. Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, despite the fact he had never been given that title. After these revelations came to light, Liam Fox initially said he would not resign, however following a week of more exposure by the press; he tendered his resignation on 14th October 2011.

It has recently become known that Mrs May authorised a relaxation on border control, essentially meaning that many people were allowed into the country without proper checks into their legal status. Following questions by the Shadow Home Secretary, Theresa May admitted it cannot be known exactly how many people managed to get into the country without being checked. She has managed to distance blame on herself in this case passing much of the responsibility onto UK Border Force chief, Brodie Clarke, whosubsequently resigned following the row. When asked, she has denied she will resign and it is clear she has the full support of the coalition.

In a new government, many of whom are just experiencing their first time in power; it is difficult to escape the scrutiny of a 24-hour media. However, the cabinet has already seen several resignations, the more this trend continues, the more the Government undermines itself. The coalition government has been in power for almost a year and a half, and it looks as if the scandals are set to continue, as only time will tell.

One Response to “New Politics, Same Old Politicians – Scandals of the Coalition Government”
  1. ray smith says:

    Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, BNP, whats the difference their all bent in my opinion! PARLIAMENT SHOULD BE SECTIONED UNDER THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT!

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